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Watch Isabelle Huppert in the trailer for La Syndicaliste

Copyright © 2022 Guy Ferrandis – Le Bureau Films

LA SYNDICALISTE is a gripping political thriller based on the true story of Maureen Kearney, a trade union organiser in the French nuclear industry who became both a victim and suspect in a shocking scandal. Starring Isabelle Huppert (Elle, The Piano Teacher) in an electrifying performance as Kearney, LA SYNDICALISTE premiered at the Venice Film Festival followed by Dublin and Glasgow Film Festivals and will be released in cinemas from 30 June 2023.

Maureen Kearney (Isabelle Huppert) was the head union representative of a French multinational nuclear powerhouse.  She became a whistleblower, denouncing top-secret deals that shook the French nuclear sector.  Alone against the world, she fought government ministers and industry leaders tooth and nail to bring the scandal to light and to defend more than 50,000 jobs.  Her life was turned upside down when she was violently assaulted in her own home. The investigation was carried out under pressure: the subject was sensitive. Suddenly, new elements created doubt in the minds of the investigators, and at first a victim, Maureen became a suspect.

Writer/Director Jean-Paul Salomé (Arsène Lupin, Mamma Weed) was inspired to make this film after reading investigative journalist Caroline Michel-Aguirre’s book ‘La Syndicaliste’.  He was drawn to the cinematic potential of the story and the exploration of a defiant woman in a man’s world, as he explains:

The chilling story of Maureen Kearney not only shines a light on some shadowy areas of the high spheres of power – it is a drama that frightens through its clinical approach to themes as current and burning as the place of women in the spheres of power; the importance granted to their speech; and the assumption of their madness and of their manipulative nature. The Kearney affair is the story of a whistleblower as much as it is the story of a woman in a world of men unaccustomed to seeing women risk whatever it takes to attack those at the top.

Having worked previously with director Jean-Paul Salomé on his film Mamma Weed, award-winning actress Isabelle Huppert explains what drew her to playing the role of Irish-born Maureen Kearney:

I didn’t think about whether Maureen was guilty or innocent. What I was interested in was the turmoil she generated and that, curiously enough, endures. Throughout the film, the character’s journey is singular, from the beginning of her combat to the last scene. Maureen is fighting against a kind of tentacular hydra that is completely beyond her. And at the same time, she’s fighting for something very simple: saving jobs. She could give up, but within her is a fierce will to fight and, deep down, to be a larger character than her path initially indicated. She was a trade unionist, she was not supposed to lead an army.

With a career spanning almost five decades, Isabelle Huppert is one of the greatest and most prolific actors of our time.  The recipient of many accolades including a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer for The Lacemaker (1977), two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress awards for Violette Nozière (1978) and The Piano Teacher (2001), Huppert also won a Golden Globe Best Actress Award and an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle (2016).  Other film credits include Amour, 8 Women, Happy End, Things to Come and Mrs Harris Goes to Paris.

Jean-Paul Salomé directed his first feature in 1993, Girls with Guns, starring Annie Girardot, and five years later Restons GroupésBelphegor: Phantom of the Louvre followed, starring Sophie Marceau, who he directed again six years later in Female Agents, and Arsène Lupin (2004) starring Romain Duris and Kristin Scott Thomas.  In 2010, he directed his first English-speaking film in the US, The Chameleon, starring Marc-André Grondin, Ellen Barkin and Famke Janssen, followed by Playing Dead (2013) and Mama Weed (2021) starring Isabelle Huppert in the leading role.

La Syndicaliste hits cinemas on 30th June 2023.

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